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united. Up to the close of the Peninsular war, the gentleman-soldier was represented in the ranks of the British' infantry by volunteers who served as privates, receiving arms, rations, and clothing, and who were considered to have a claim to vacant commissions by virtue of their service. There were no fewer than se venteen of those volunteers in the 71st regiment, in North America, in 1788 ; and an incident in the life of Dr. Jackson shows the position they occupied. Finding himself in New York without means or friends, Jackson presented himself to the commanding officer of the 71st, Lt. Col. Sir Archibald Campbell, and of fered his services as a volunteer. The colonel having ascertained that he was a Scotchman, and known to no one in New York, accepted him on the strength of his own skill in physiognomy. “Sir,” he said, “I require no testimony as to your being a gentleman. Your countenance and address satisfy me on that head. I will receive you into the regiment with pleasure ; but then, I have to inform you, Mr. Jackson, that there are seventeen on the list before you, who are, of course, entitled to prior promotion.” The peace of 1814 seems to have put an end to this system of recruiting for officers; and during the forty years that followed, the separation of the officer from the soldier was completed in our army; the poor gentleman was driven as effectually out of the one class as out of the other, and service in the army practically ceased to be a profession. It was then that the system of purchase of commissions became a fixed institution ;* and then that the vices of aristocratic character described by Montalembert came to be the distinction of our army.
We have written to very little purpose if, in the brief outline of a feature in our military history we have endeavoured to draw, we have not proved our position, and shown that neither ancient custom nor any of the national peculiarities require that the ranks of the army shall be recruited from the dregs of the population ; or
that wealth shall be a necessary qualification for admission among its officers; that at no remote time men fitted by social position to be promoted to the higher posts were brought into the ranks without a conscription; and that it would be but a return to former wisdom to provide against a violation of the gentility of the mess by permitting common soldiers to qualify for preferment by asserting, when they can, a claim to the character of gentlemen. “All this is mighty well,” we shall perhaps be told ; “but how are the habits of society to be changed now ? how can men fit to be officers be induced to enter the ranks? by what sumptuary laws can the expenses of the mess be accommodated to the means of the poor gentleman ?” Our general answer inust be, that a continuance of war would necessarily tend towards the accomplishment of these ends. We have the authority of the Under Secretary for War for the statement, that in the year 1855 no fewer than one hundred and fifty non-commissioned officers have been presented with commissions in the cavalry and infantry ; and that many more have been promoted in the Land Transport Corps, and in the various foreign contingents in the pay of England.* We have thus already witnessed a large intrusion into the respective messes, of men who have no means beyond their pay, and who will be able to live upon that while upon active service. A continuance of such promotions at the rate of last year, combined with the gradual elimination of the wealthier officers, would, in half-a-dozen years, give the control of the economy of regiments in a great degree to inen so situated ; while the chances of promotion, and the increase that has been made in the private soldier's pay, would draw into the ranks a larger supply of men fitted to fill the vacant places of the promoted non-commissioned officers, and looking through that probation to the ultimate attainment of commis sions. It would not seem to be very difficult to follow out this war model in peace, or even to improve upon it. The main obstacle in the way is the system of purchase of commissions, which would be re-established in all its enormity were peace to be now concluded before the shock that has been given to it shall be consummated. Six months would not elapse from the date of a definitive treaty, before private affairs would lose their urgency; the poverty of the promoted officers would be tempted to make way; the Duke's “poor creature of a gentleman-officer" would again be placed in supremacy over the mess; and the whole system would return to the status quo ante bellum. The wealthy grocer's or brewer's son would buy his way on to the command of a regiment, and claim the position of an aristocrat by reason of his nominal connexion with the military profession, for the practice of which he would possess no qualifications, and whose livery he would affect to disdain. The ranks would be filled with wretched outcasts, whose most manful struggles to redeem themselves and their occupation from the depths of degradation would be met by withering contempt. Even within our own memory, gentlemen of the army habitually wore the dress of their rank when they appeared in public places or went into company ; at this moment, notwithstanding the glories of Alma and Inkerman, no alder man's son in a line regiment would condescend to shew himself out of barracks in his uniform, except upon duty. The merest upstart officer despises the badges of his service, which are upon the other hand treated with contumely by the meanest of civilians. It is not long since we saw an authenticated statement in the Times, that a serjeant with a Crimean decoration on his breast was expelled from a London singing saloon, because he ventured to intrude upon the select society of the place dressed in the ungenteel habiliments of his calling We have ourselves witnessed with indignation an attempt to exclude an inoffensive non-commissioned officer from the polite companionship of a railway carriage. To this complexion matters will most certainly again return---they have not yet got very far away from it-unless the change that the war has made in the system of purchase of commissions be followed up by its total abolition. Until
* The system was begun in the reign of Charles II. * Debate in the House of Commons on Motion for a Committee to inquire into the systein of Sale and Purchase of Commissions in the Army, - Times, March 5, 1856.
another war shall come, supposing this Russian embroilment to be at an end, another opportunity for reformation in this particular will not offer; if it be neglected, the next war will open with at least as much confusion, loss, and disgrace as distinguished the campaigns of 1854-5. On the other hand, if the great obstacle be removed, we humbly venture to think it would be found to be no very hard task, to organise the British military service into a profession which would not be inferior to any other in Europe. We do not admit that we are called upon to lay down the details of a plan for the remodelling of our military system, because we have used an opportunity for disclosing our views touching its defects ; but lest the charge of being unpractical should be brought against us, we shall briefly point out what seems to us to be the line of action deducible from the historical facts we have established.
The objects in view are to make the army a profession, and to bring into it the greatest possible number of men, the motive of whose actions shall be a sense of duty and not fear of punishment—that is to say, gentlemen, giving to the word the most accurate and yet the most comprehensive definition we can conceive it to be susceptible of. In order to accomplish these objects, it is neither necessary nor desirable to exclude from the army any class, even to the highest of the aristocracy ; but it is both desirable and necessary to enable a poor gentleman to live at his ease among the officers, without being obliged to exceed his pay; and also to render it possible for such a one to enter and live in the ranks, without forfeiting his self respect or consenting to his own utter social degradation. The first end could not be attained withoutan entire remodelling of the mess system ; but in order to attain it, all important as it is, a prudent minister for war would not hesitate to abolish the mess altogether. It is not, in our opinion, at all probable that any such extreme measure would be required. We only say, that a sincere military reformer ought not to shrink from its adoption, if the obstinacy of some officers or the coxcombry of others should resist needful changes. For ourselves, we
are firm believers in many advantages as flowing from that distinctive institution of the British army; hnt we can also confidently say, that the expense and tyrannical coxcombry of the mess is generally felt to be a grievous burthen ; and we venture to affirm that a remodelling of the system would be hailed with satisfaction by the majority of regimental officers. Every social advantage that is derived from a community of living in regiments might be obtained for one half of the lowest sum it now costs, while many other and greater advantages would flow from the change. The young officer, fearing to incur debt, is driven to the solitude of his quarters, or into cheap de bauchery ; when, could he do 30 without ruinous expense, he would gladly pass the evening in the society of his comrades and superiors. It does not appear to us to be difficult to conceive that a well-conducted, economical mess might be made the means of much social enjoyment, and even of yet more direct moral and intellectual improvement.
But when thinking of the modes of benefiting the young officer, and of removing from him the reproach of being “a poor creature in camp, quarters or cantonments," the maxim of the nursery rhyme should be kept constantly in view :
knowledge which compose the elements of the military art. He, too, would, in that case, be forced to devote time and attention to studies of the nature of which not one in a hundred young officers has now the slightest notion ; or to make the painful confession of inferioritv.
Thechanges to which we have pointed would, we believe, go a long way towards making it possible for the poor gentleman appointed to a commission to maintain himself in that position without incurring debt or showing meanness; but a good deal more should be done before the poorest gentleman could be reconciled to beginning his career, as of old, in the ranks. It is a sore trial to the stoutest-hearted young adventurer to be debarred of all privacy, to be forced to abandon all former acquaintanceships, to be shorn of all respect of men. We have known the sorest part of the trial, that which made it unbearable, to be the necessity for sleeping and dressing in a room common to thirteen comrades, the serjeant and his wife. It is hard for a generous youth to brook the contempt of all associates, to know that friend, schoolfellow, brother, father fear disgrace from the slightest intercourse with the poor outcast, whose red coat is the recognized badge of profligacy and degradation. It is a mere mockery to attempt to elevate the private soldier, crushed under this weight of dishonor, by cross, or medal, or chevron, or sixpence additional pay. Education, otherwise so desirable, and for the advancement of which so much has been well done of late, will but degrade him the more, when by developing his faculties it sharpens his perception of the wrong that is done him. Yet surely, in this ingenious age, we need not shrink from attempting a work of restoration. Something has already been done by the establishment of reading rooms, towards affording to the soldier who desires to improve his mind, quietness if not privacy; and we trust that, at any cost, the abominable outrage of quartering women in the barrack rooms may be put an end to. We do not hesitate to say, also, that the totally useless and degrading formality of health-inspections ought to be discontinued. The abolition of these two practices would do much
“ Satan finds some mischief still, For idle hands to do."
The life of a commanding officer should be a continued crusade against the idleness of his subalterns. The proper management of a regiment would provide ample work for every officer in it; and were arms a profession as well as a service, a tone would exist, as in every other professional society, which would oblige a young man of spirit to devote all his leisure to the acquirement of the technical knowledge needed to enable him to maintain a position level with that of his companions. The barrister, physi. cian, or divine must be prepared to show at meetings of his fellows, that he is not ignorant of law, physic, or divinity, or he will lose caste. And so in the laudable profession of arms, the soldier would find it necessary to exhibit some acquaintance with the various and difficult branches of
not, of course, by specific regulations or general orders that such a change as we point to could be made in the economy of the army. It must be a work of time, and itself the result of those other changes in the character and position of the officers which we have indicated. Something might be done by encouraging, and if necessary enforcing the habitual wearing of their uniform by officers; by restoring to the men the privilege of wearing their side arms; by making use of the opportunity afforded in the home camps for the association of officers and men in manly sports ; by the establishment of more respectful forms of addressing non-commissioned officers and men, in service documents and conversations. The distinction made in regimental addresses between an" officer and a “man" intended to mark the superiority of the rank of the one provokes à ludicrous comparison in the mind, and lowers both in the passing thoughts of civilians. The effect of this contemptuous
towards lessening the barrack annoyances of the decent soldier : trivial as they may seem, their retention is as good a proof as could be offered of the ignorance of regimental officers with respect to the feelings and habits of those for whose well-being they are responsible. We have no wish to see the soldier coddled. His life ought to be somewhat of a rough one, but in a material aspect he has at present little to complain of. He is well fed, well clad, and except in the particular we have alluded to, usually well lodged. The real point of difficulty is the improvement of his moral and social condition, so as to place him at least upon a level in society with the artizan or clerk. The Prussian soldier takes his place at a table d'hote or in a public garden, according to his personal claims, his uniform forming no bar to social intercourse. That state of the matter is produced in Prussia by the fact that every man in the nation must be a soldier. It would, we believe, be brought about in England if the military life were made a regular profession. If that duty referred to by the Duke of Wellington as being performed by the officers of foreign armies were performed by our subalterns, the private soldier would at once be raised many degrees in the social scale. It is impossible to bring a body of men into the highest state of military efficiency, without an intimate acquaintance with their individual characters and abilities, and that can be obtained only by careful observation on the part of the company officers; which again implies a drawing close of the links of communication between the inferior grades down to the lowest. It is by the absence of intercourse with those under his command that our gentleman-officer is, according to the Duke's opinion, reduced to his condition of a poor creature in disciplining his company. By the reestablishment of respectfulintercourse between him, his serjeants, corporals, and men, he would be made a strong creature and no less of a gentleman; while those under his command would be all the better soldiers for their more careful training, and would lose no feeling of deference to their officers; because, in respecting them as more dignified comrades of the same profession, they would, to their own apprehension and in the eyes of the world, honor themselves. It is
missioned officers and privates, the idea that they are not recognized as members of the profession of arms, but as mere servitors; and it cannot be doubted that men usually conform their conduct to the estimation in which they are held in their circle, more especially when that is set at a low standard. In the best days of the British army other forms of address were usual, a shadow of which still remains visible in the custom of mustering the troopers of the Royal Horse Guards by the title of Mr. It was in those evil times, between the disappearance of Marlborough and the advent of Wolfe, that the fashion of addressing soldiers in regimental speeches as “gentlemen," or "comrades," was abolished; when the desire of seeming to be pre-eminently gentle was so strong upon the shabby captains and subalterns of the day, that the serjeants of the Coldstream Guards were (Dec. 1747) forbidden to wear ruftles, lest they should be mistaken for commissioned officers. The witholding from noncommissioned officers of the courtesies of address seems to be still more novel, as in a war office letter of 1756, which chanced to fall under our eye as we were occupied by these reflections, we find an intimation to a commanding officer that three non-commissioned officers named were appointed lieutenants in another regiment, and “His Royal Highness orders that the said gentlemen be discharged from doing duty as serjeants." We admit that much has been done of late years, and well done, towards elevating the condition of that most deserving class of men to which we allude. A step or two further, which could be taken at very small cost, would render the position of a serjeant in the army as good as that of a junior clerk in any department of the civil service; to our thinking-and we are not expressing the hot thoughts of youth-it is one infinitely more desiable for a young man of spirit, good conduct, and reasonable ambition.
There is yet one point in which the moral condition of the soldier might be benefited, to which we shall allude before we leave the subject. There is now no mediator, no one who commonly acts the part of guide, philosopher, or friend in the regimental family. This duty in former times, we fear we must go back a good way beyond the epoch of the abolition of the office, was performed by the regimental preacher or chap lain ; whose influence well employed must have been of vast importance in forming the character of the soldier, and in harmonising the social action of the necessarily discordant parts of a corps. Circumstances now forbid the use of that particular agency in regiments. Yet we cannot but think that this portion of the chaplain's function ought still to be performed; and further, that the pecu. liar position of regimental medical officers especially fits them to discharge the duty of common friend to their comrades of every grade. We have upon a former occasion sketched an outline of our conception of the beau ideal of a soldier-surgeon,* and we do not mean now to recur to the subject. It is our belief, however, and we express it with the utmost respect for the many excellent qualities of the medical officers of the army, that they might do infinite good to the public service, contribute much towards the elevation of the position of the soldier, and acquire an increase of respect for their own class, were they generally to shape their conduct in accordance with the hint we have here ventured throw out.
The growing heap of manuscript before us gives warning that it is time to lay down our pen. Our original design was simply to vouch a record or two in illustration of the genealogy of the now extinct family of the gentleman-soldier, and we find we have got rambling into a consideration of means by which it might be regenerated. We wish we could believe that we have said enough to induce our military reformers to withdraw their thoughts from the contemplation of foreign models, and to turn them seriously towards the study of the native material for soldier-making, of the manner in which it has been worked up in other days, and of the possibility of reverting to those well proved practices. We hear & great deal of French and German military schools, and not a little, lat. terly, of examinations of young aspirants for commissions, and we can see some gigantic jobs in the academic line looming in the middle distance. Already this turn of the public mind has raised up a new race of military grinders, and that we firmly believe is the greatest good it is ever likely to accomplish. Having come near to an end of our observations, we must not take fresh wind and set off again; but we would seriously ask any military man, does he really think any object will be gained to the advantage of the public service by this puerile system? We will answer for ourselves that we have no doubt the military profession cannot be sufficiently learned except by practice-by practice and reading, as old Munro recommends and that the most efficient project for a military college would be to restore the custom of admitting gentlemen volunteers into the several regiments. There, by carrying out to their legitimate extent the existing plans of regimental education, an opportunity might be afforded to the aspiring soldier to improve himself to the utmost of his bent. Thence he would naturally graduate as non-commissioned officer, and that step ought to open to him the whole career of promotion. There is one fatal objection to this plan: it would cost nothing to the public; place no patronage at the disposal of the minister, who by patronage alone can hope to carry on the Queen's government.
* D. U. Magazine for March, 1855,